Activate Learning’s Reading College hosted the first part of an innovative three-day programme for 13-15 year olds passionate about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The course was organised by the Engineering Development Trust and ran over the October half-term holiday at Reading College, the University of Reading and Bayer in Green Park. It was attended by over 30 year 9 and 10 pupils from schools throughout Berkshire.
Attendees participated in science workshops, made their own lip balms and lactose free milk, met apprentices and STEM graduates at a speed networking event and were given CV and job application advice by HR professionals.
As the course was held in three different settings, participants came away with a better understanding of how they could pursue STEM through further education at a college, through a university degree, and with an employer through an apprenticeship and longer-term career.
Everyone who completed the course gained a bronze Industrial Cadets award, a national industry-led accreditation designed to enhance workplace experiences for young people and inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales.
People left inspired by the activities
Alex Clarke, aged 14 years old, from Tilehurst said: “I’d like to study electronics in the future. The event helped me to see what Reading College is like and how it could help me in the future and what to study.”
Francesca Bailey, 13, from Chieveley said: “My favourite part was doing our own practicals in science. I liked the chromatography experiment where we took four different colours of Skittles and we got the dye off them and watched the dyes separate into different colours.
“Coming to the event has changed my career aspirations. I had a set idea on what I wanted to do but just listening through the careers talk and seeing all those different careers has given me more ideas of the way I want to go.”
Why is it’s so important to inspire the next generation
Shanthi Pandit, Biology Lecturer from Activate Learning, said: “Activate Learning offers various routes into STEM careers. There are multiple opportunities that are available for anyone interested in STEM.
“As a college we have teamed up with the Engineering Development Trust to give a first-hand experience of what life is like in a college and to showcase various routes we offer into STEM.
“The day started with introduction to the college and various routes into STEM both by EDT and our careers adviser. This was followed by inspiring science workshops led by our subject specialists in which they had to apply their scientific knowledge. At the end of the day, student ambassadors answered any questions relating to college life.”
Steve Ross, Course Co-ordinator from the Engineering Development Trust said: “It has never been a more confusing landscape for young people who wish to make well-informed decisions about their future studies and careers.
“Uncertain graduate employment and developments in apprenticeships has made it more complex for young people and their parents to consider appropriate options within the STEM arena.
“We are grateful to Reading College for hosting the first day of our Reading course, where students will be able to see their fantastic facilities and the career options that can be achieved by studying at a college of further education.”
The EDT is an established educational charity with a heritage of over 30 years. It was originally engineering focussed but now promotes all STEM careers, being industry led with young people at its centre. Last year they arranged over 40,000 STEM activities for young students aged 9-21 years – being connected to over 3,500 employers.